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Bible Commentaries
Job 30

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.

Younger - not the three friends (Job 15:10; Job 22:4; Job 22:6-7). A general description: Job 30:1-8, The lowness of the persons who derided him; Job 30:9-15, The derision itself. Formerly old men rose to me (Job 29:8). Now not only my juniors, who are hound to reverence me (Leviticus 19:32), but even the mean and base-born, actually deride me: opposed to "smiled upon" (Job 29:24). This goes further than even the 'mockery' of Job by relation and friends. (Job 12:4; Job 16:10; Job 16:20; Job 17:2; Job 17:6; Job 19:22). Orientals feel keenly any indignity shown by the young. Job speaks as a rich Arabian emir, proud of his descent.

Dogs - regarded with disgust in the East as unclean (1 Samuel 17:43; Proverbs 26:11). They are not allowed to enter a house, but run about wild in the open air, living on offal and chance morsels (Psalms 59:14-15). Here again, we are reminded of Jesus Christ (Psalms 22:16, "Dogs have compassioned me"). Their fathers, my coevals, were so mean and famished that I would not have associated them with (not to say, set them over) my dogs in guarding my flock.

Verse 2

Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?

If their fathers could be of no profit to me, much less the sons, who are feebler than their sires; and in whose case the hope of attaining old age [ kaalach (H3624)] (Job 5:26, similarly) is utterly gone, so puny are they (Maurer). Even if they had "strength of hands," that could be now of no use to me, as all I want in my present affliction is sympathy. But they have not even strength. Umbreit translates the latter clause, 'With them even old age must perish:' so inhuman are they that aged men, whose sufferings ought to excite pity, are allowed to perish near them without a helping hand!

Verse 3

For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste. For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste.

Solitary - literally, hard as a rock [ galmuwd (H1565)]: translate, 'dried up,' emaciated with hunger, Job describes the rudest race of Bedouins of the desert (Umbreit).

Fleeing, [ ha`orªqiym (H6207)] - so the Septuagint Better, as the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate, 'gnawers of the wilderness.' What they gnaw in the wilderness follows in Job 30:4.

In former time - literally, the 'yesternight of desolation and waste' (the most utter desolation, Ezekiel 6:14); i:e., those deserts, frightful as night to man by their gloom, and even there from time immemorial. I think both ideas are in the word-namely, both darkness (Gesenius) and antiquity (Umbreit). (Isaiah 30:33, margin) Hebrew, 'from yesterday' - i:e., of old.

Verse 4

Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.

Mallows - rather, salt wort, which grows in deserts, and is eaten as a salad by the poor, having a salt taste (Maurer).

By the bushes - among the bushes.

Juniper - rather, a kind of broom, spartium junceum (Linnoeus), still called Arabia, as in the Hebrew of Job, Retem, of which the bitter roots are eaten by the poor.

Verse 5

They were driven forth from among men, (they cried after them as after a thief;)

They cried - i:e., a cry is raised, etc. Expressing the contempt felt for this race by civilized and well-born Arabs. When these wild vagabonds make an incursion on villages, they are driven away as thieves would be.

Verse 6

To dwell in the cliffs of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks. To dwell in the cliffs of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks.

They are forced to dwell in the cliffs of the valleys - rather, 'in the gloomy (literally, gloom of) valleys,' or wadys [ ba`ªruwts (H6178) nªchaaliym (H5158)]. To dwell in valleys is in the East a mark of wretchedness The Troglodytes, parts of Arabia, live in such dwellings as caves, etc.

Verse 7

Among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were gathered together.

Brayed - like the wild donkey (Job 6:5) for food. The inarticulate tones of this uncivilized rabble are but little above those of the beast of the field.

Gathered together - rather, sprinkled here and there. Literally, poured out [ yªcupaachuw (H5596)], graphically picturing their disorderly mode of encampment, lying up and down behind the thorn-bushes.

Nettles - or brambles (Umbreit).

Verse 8

They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth.

Fools - i:e., the impious and abandoned (1 Samuel 25:25).

Base - Hebrew, nameless low-born rabble.

Viler than ... - rather, they were driven or beaten out [ nikªauw (H5217), from naaka' (H5217) to beat] of the land. The Horites in Mount Seir (Genesis 14:6, with which cf. Genesis 36:20-21; Deuteronomy 2:12; Deuteronomy 2:22) were probably the aborigines, driven out by the tribe to which Job's ancestors belonged: their name means Troglodytae, or dwelling in caves. To these Job alludes here (Job 30:1-3) and in Job 24:4-8, which see.

Verse 9

And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword. (Job 17:6.) Strikingly similar to the derision Jesus Christ underwent (Lamentations 3:14; Psalms 69:12). Here Job returns to the sentiment in Job 30:1. It is to such that I am become a song of 'derision.'

Verse 10

They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face.

In my face - rather, refrain not to spit (in deliberate contempt) before my face. To spit at all in presence of another is thought in the Fast insulting, much more when done to mark 'abhorrence' Cf. the further insult to Jesus Christ (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67).

Verse 11

Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me.

He - i:e., God; antithetical to they: the English version here follows the marginal reading (Qeri'), "my cord;" image from a bow unstrung; opposed to Job 29:20. "My how was renewed in my hand." The text (Kethibh), 'his cord,' or 'reins,' is better, because of the parallelism to "they have let loose the bridle:" 'yea, each lets loose his reins' (Umbreit). But the parallelism is good in the English version also.

Verse 12

Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction.

Youth - rather, a (low) brood [ pirchach (H6526)]. To rise on the right hand is to accuse, as that was the position of the accuser in court (Zechariah 3:1; Psalms 109:6).

Push ... feet - jostle me out of the way (Job 24:4).

Ways of - i:e., their ways of (i:e., with a view to my) destruction. Image, as in Job 19:12, from a besieging army throwing up a way of approach for itself to a city.

Verse 13

They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they have no helper.

Image of an assailed fortress continued. They tear up the path by which succour might reach me.

Set forward - in calamity (Zechariah 1:15).

They have no helper - Arabic proverb for contemptible persons. Yet even such afflict Job.

Verse 14

They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters: in the desolation they rolled themselves upon me.

Waters - (so 2 Samuel 5:20). But it is better to retain the image of Job 30:12-13. "They came (upon me) as through a wide breach" - namely, made by the besiegers in the wall of a fortress (Isaiah 30:13). (Maurer.)

In the desolation - `amidst the crash' of falling masonry: or, 'with a shout like the crash' of, etc.

Verse 15

Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind: and my welfare passeth away as a cloud.

They - terrors,

Soul, [ nªdibaatiy (H5082)] - rather, 'my dignity' [ naadiyb (H5081), willing, noble] (Umbreit). Perhaps 'my noble spirit.'

Welfare - prosperity.

Cloud - (Job 7:9; Isaiah 44:22).

Verses 16-23

And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me.

Job's outward calamities affect his mind.

Poured out - in irrepressible complaints (Psalms 42:4; Joshua 7:5).

Verse 17. In the Hebrew night is poetically personified, as Job 3:3, 'Night pierceth my bone (so that they fall) from me' [ mee`aalaay (H5921)] (not, as the English version, "in me"), see Job 30:30.

Sinews - so the Arabic, veins, akin to the Hebrew: rather, gnawers, the same Hebrew as in Job 30:3 (note) - namely, my gnawing pains never cease. Effects of elephantiasis.

Verse 18. Of my disease - rather, 'of God' (Job 23:6).

Garment changed - from a robe of honour to one of mourning, literally (Job 2:8; Jonah 3:6) and metaphorically (Umbreit). Or, rather, as Schuttens, following up Job 30:17, My outer garment is changed into affliction - i:e., affliction has become my outer garment; it also bindeth me fast round (my throat) as the collar of the inner coat -

i.e., it is both my inner and outer garment. Observe the distinction between the inner and outer garments. The latter refers to his afflictions from without (Job 30:1-13); the former his personal afflictions (Job 30:14-23). Umbreit makes "God" subject to "bindeth," as in Job 30:19.

Verse 19. God is poetically said to do that which the mourner had done to himself (Job 2:8). With lying in the ashes he had become, like them, in dirty colour.

Verse 20. Stand up - the reverential attitude of a suppliant before a king (1 Kings 8:14; Luke 18:11-13).

Not - supplied from the first clause. But the intervening affirmative "stand" makes this ellipsis unlikely. Rather, as Job 16:9 (not only dost thou refuse aid to me 'standing' as a suppliant, but), thou dost regard me with a frown: eye me sternly.

Verse 22. Liftest ... to wind - as a "leaf," or "stubble" (Job 13:25). The moving pillars of sand raised by the wind to the clouds, as described by travelers, would happily depict Job's agitated spirit, if it be to them that he alludes.

Dissolvest ... substance - the margin, Hebrew reading (Qeri'): 'my wealth.' or else 'wisdom' - i:e., sense and spirit; or 'my hope of deliverance' [ tuwshiyaah (H8454)]. But the text (Kethibh) is better, Thou dissolvest me (with fear, Exodus 15:15) in the crash (of the whirlwind; as Job 30:14, note) [tªshuwaah] (Maurer.) Umbreit translates as a verb, 'Thou terrifiest me' [tªshaweh].

Verse 23. This shows Job 19:25 cannot be restricted to Job's hope of a temporal deliverance: he had no anticipation of deliverance before death and the grave. Death - as in Job 28:22, the realm of the dead (Hebrews 9:27; Genesis 3:19).

Verse 24

Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction.

Expressing Job's faith as to the state after death. 'Though one must go to the grave, yet He will no more afflict IN THE RUIN of the body (so the Hebrew for grave [ bª`iy (H1164)]) there, if one has cried to Him when being destroyed.' 'If, in His destruction [ bªpiydow (H6365)] among them [ laahen (H3807a)], there is a cry of prayer' [ shuwa` (H7769)]. If, in the destruction which God brings upon men, there be prayer offered on their part (Barnes). This accords best with Job's expectation that God would ultimately vindicate him (Job 19:25). [Gesenius takes bª`iy (H1164) from baa`aah (H1158) prayer: 'Yea, prayer is nought when He stretches out His hand (to ruin), and in His (God's) destruction, (namely, which He inflicts) their cry avails nought.'] The 'stretching of His hand' to punish after death answers antithetically to the raising 'the cry' of prayer in the second clause. Maurer gives another translation, which accords with the scope of Job 30:24-31: If it is natural for one in affliction to ask aid, why should it be considered (by the friends) wrong in my case? 'Nevertheless, does not a man in ruin stretch out his hand?' (imploring help, Job 30:20; Lamentations 1:17.) 'If one be in his calamity (destruction), is there not therefore a cry' (for aid)? Thus in the parallelism "cry" answers to "stretch ... hand;" 'in his calamity,' to 'in ruin.' The negative of the first clause is to be supplied in the second, as in Job 30:25 (Job 28:17).

Verse 25

Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor?

May I not be allowed to complain of my calamity, and beg relief, seeing that I myself sympathized with those "in trouble?" (literally, hard of day; those who had a hard time of it.)

Verse 26

When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.

I may be allowed to crave help, seeing that "when I looked for good (on account of my piety and charity), yet evil" etc. Light - prosperity and joy (Job 22:28).

Verse 27

My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me.

Bowels - regarded as the seat of deep feeling (Isaiah 16:11).

Boiled - violently heated and agitated.

Prevented - old English for unexpectedly came upon me, surprised me.

Verse 28

I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation.

Mourning - rather, I move about blackened [ qodeer (H6937)], though not by the sun - i:e., whereas many are blackened by the sun, I am by the heat of God's wrath (so "boiled," Job 30:27); the elephantiasis covering me with blackness of skin (Job 30:30), as with the garb of mourning (Jeremiah 14:2). This striking enigmatic form of Hebrew expression occurs Isaiah 29:9.

Stood up - as an innocent man crying for justice in an assembled court (Job 30:29).

Verse 29

I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.

Dragons ... owls - rather, jackals, ostriches, both of which utter dismal screams (Micah 1:8); in which respect, as also in their living amidst solitudes, the emblem of desolation, Job is their brother and companion - i:e., resembles them. "Dragon," Hebrew Tannim, usually means the crocodile; so perhaps here, its open jaws lifted toward heaven, and its noise, making it seem as if it mourned over its fate (Bochart).

Verse 30

My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.

Upon me - rather, as in 17 (note), my skin is black (and falls away) from me [ mee`aalaay (H5921)].

My bones - (Job 19:20; Psalms 102:5).

Verse 31

My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep.

Organ - rather, pipe (Job 21:12): "My joy is turned into the voice of weeping" (Lamentations 5:15). My harp and pipe now emit only sounds of sorrow. These instruments are properly appropriated to joy (Isaiah 30:29; Isaiah 30:32), which makes their use now in sorrow the sadder by contrast.


(1) Derision and disdain (Job 30:1-10), wound a high-spirited and sensitive nature more than the most acute bodily pain. Yet, if we are conscious of not having deserved reproach, we ought not to let ourselves be cast down by the sneers, revilings, and hatred of ungodly men. Rather let us "consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself" (Hebrews 12:13); and "who, when He was reviled, reviled not again" (1 Peter 2:23).

(2) How little reason have men to be ambitious of the praises or proud of the honours which the multitude bestow, seeing that the breath of man's favour is as fickle as the wind. The same rabble that cringe and fawn upon you today will, if adversity assail you, turn against, deride, and insult you to-morrow; just as the mob that cried 'Hosanna to Jesus, the Son of David' on the previous Sunday, cried "Away with Him, crucify Him," on the following Friday.

(3) When the spirit is embittered by bodily pains and afflictions arising from our fellow-men, we ought especially to be on our guard against being betrayed, as Job was, into entertaining hard thoughts of God (Job 30:11-22). Still, great allowance is to be made for our brother-believers in such a trying position, where their mind is confused, and the soul is hurried away by the violence of conflicting emotions. Instead of harshly condemning, we ought gently to soothe, sympathize, and try to laid them to view things in their true light. The remembrance of their past sympathy with those in trouble of mind, body, or estate (Job 30:25), and the unexpected suddenness of their reverses of fortune (Job 30:26), are strong claims on our charity and tenderness in dealing with them.

(4) The feature in one's trials which causes most pain to the child of God is, that when he cries, his heavenly Father seems not to heed him (Job 30:20). Let such a one wait patiently, and, like Job, pray on believingly, confident that, if not in this life, yet beyond the grave, God will for ever cease to stretch out His hand to afflict those who now cry to Him in their destruction (Job 30:24).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 30". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-30.html. 1871-8.
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